Gambling is an activity in which a person stakes something of value, such as money or possessions, on an event that has a chance of being determined by chance with the intent to win something else of value. The term also includes games of chance where instances of strategy are discounted, such as dice games or horse races. It is a widespread activity that can be found in casinos, online, at sporting events and even at work. Some people are more at risk of gambling problems, for example those who have a mental health condition like depression or anxiety may be more likely to gamble to help them feel better or to distract themselves from their worries. It is also common for those who are in financial crisis to turn to harmful gambling as a way to raise money.
It can be difficult to recognise when you have a problem with gambling. You may be able to control your gambling habits in the short-term, but the urge to gamble can return and lead to more serious issues over time. You might be unable to stop, find yourself lying about your gambling and spending more than you can afford to lose. There are a number of services that offer support, assistance and counselling for people who have problems with gambling. These services can be helpful for those with a gambling disorder and their family members.
Some people who have a gambling disorder have genetic predispositions to thrill-seeking behaviour and impulsivity, which can be hard to control. Other factors that contribute to a gambling disorder include the environment in which the person is living and their culture, where gambleling can be considered a socially acceptable pastime.
If you are struggling with a gambling problem, it is important to seek help as soon as possible. You can find treatment and support for yourself or a loved one at a variety of places including the NHS, private organisations, charities, local councils and self-help groups for families such as Gamblers Anonymous. Some of these services can be free, confidential and face-to-face.
When you talk to a therapist about your gambling addiction, they will listen and offer you support to help you break the habit and get back on track. They will help you understand how your brain works and the factors that can trigger problematic gambling. They will also be able to help you with other aspects of your life, such as relationships, work and finances.
Coping with a loved one who has a gambling problem can be stressful. It is important to remember that there are others out there who have struggled with this issue and been able to recover. It is also important to set boundaries in how you manage money, for example by not allowing them to use credit cards or to shop online. You could also try to encourage your loved one to do physical activities, or join a support group such as Gam-Anon.